Failover Cluster Node Names in Upper & Lower Case In Window 2012 with Cluster.exe, PowerShell & GUI


Cluster Node Names Can Be Inconsistently Named

A lot of us who build failover clusters are bound to run into the fact that the node names as shown the Failover Cluster Management GUI is not always consistent in the names format  it gives to the nodes. Sometimes they are lower case, sometimes they are upper case. See the example below of a Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 cluster.


Many a system administrator has some slight neurotic tendencies. And he or she can’t stand this. I’ve seen people do crazy things like trying to fix this up to renaming a node in the registry. Do NOT do that. You’ll break that host. People check whether the computer object in AD is lower or upper case, whether the host name is lower or upper case, check how the node are registered in DNS etc. They try to keep ‘m all in sync at sometimes high cost Smile But in the end you can never be sure that all nodes will have the same case using the GUI.

So what can you do?

  1. Use cluster.exe to add the node to the cluster. That enforces the case you type in the name!  An example of this is when you’d like upper case node names:
    cluster.exe /cluster:CLUSTER-NAME /add /node:UPPERCASENODE1
  2. Some claim that when you add all nodes at the same time and they will all be the same. But ‘m not to sure this will always work.

Windows 2012

In Windows 2012 PowerShell replaces cluster.exe (it is still there, for backward compatibility but for how long?) and they don’t seem to enforce the case of the names of the node. For more info on Failover Clustering PowerShell look at Failover Clusters Cmdlets in Windows PowerShell, it’s a good starting point.

Don’t despair my fellow IT Pros. Learn to accept that fail over clustering is case insensitive and you’ll never run into any issue. Let it go …. Well unless you get a GUI bug like we had with Exchange 2010 SP1 or any other kind of bug that has issues with the case of the nodes Smile.

If you want to use cluster.exe (or MSClus) for that matter you’ll need to add it via the Add Roles and Features Wizard / Remote Administration Tools /Feature Administration Tools / Failover Clustering Tools. Note that there are not present by default.



On an upgraded node I needed to uninstall failover clustering and reinstall it to get it to works, so even in that scenario they are gone and I needed to add them again.

MSClus and Cluster.EXE support Windows Server 2012, Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 2008 clusters. The Windows Server 2012 PowerShell module for clustering supports Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2008 R2, not Windows Server 2008.

For more information see the relevant section at Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server “8” Beta (dsforum2wiki). You’ll have to live with the fact that a lot of documentation still refers to Windows Server 8. As of his post, it’s only been a week that the final name of Windows Server 2012 was announced.



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Upgrading Hyper-V Cluster Nodes to Windows Server 2012 (Beta) – Part 3

This is a multipart series based on some lab test & work I did.

  1. Part 1 Upgrading Hyper-V Cluster Nodes to Windows Server 2012 (Beta) – Part 1
  2. Part 2 Upgrading Hyper-V Cluster Nodes to Windows Server 2012 (Beta) – Part 2
  3. Part 3 Upgrading Hyper-V Cluster Nodes to Windows Server 2012 (Beta) – Part 3

And we have arrived at part three of my adventures while “transitioning” my Hyper-V cluster nodes to Windows Server 2012. I prefer the term transition as is more correct. We can still not do a rolling upgrade a cluster cluster. We still need to create a new cluster and recuperate the evicted nodes.

I’ll repeat myself here (again) by stating I did not reinstall the evicted nodes but upgraded them. Why, because I can and I wanted to try it out and see what happens. For production purposes I do advise you to rebuild nodes from scratch using a well defined and automated plan if possible. I already mentioned this in Upgrading Hyper-V Cluster Nodes to Windows Server 2012 (Beta) – Part 1

Moving the Storage & Hyper-V Guests

So we stopped Part 2 at a newly created cluster without any storage. That’s what we’ll be taking care of in this part.  Let’s recap what we already mentioned at the end of Part 2.

We have several options for storage here. We could assign new storage but we cannot do a Quick Storage Migration between cluster using SCVMM2008R2 but that doesn’t fly as SCVMM2008R2 can’t manage Windows 2012 clusters and I don’t know if it ever will. We can do a good old manual or scripted export to and import from the new storage of the VMs what takes a considerable amount of time. You also need to have the extra storage available.

We can also recuperate the old storage with the VMs still on there. This could get tricky as no two cluster should be able to see & use the storage at the same time. The benefit could be that we can just use the import type in Windows Server 2012 “Register the virtual machine in-place” (use the existing unique ID) and be done with it. We’ll try that one. We’ll still have some down time but it should be pretty fast. It’s only from Windows Server 2012 on that we’ll be able to do Shared Nothing Live Migrations between clusters Smile and live will be good. If you have a SAN you could also use clones to get this job done without less risk. You work on cloned data and keep the original around instead of using that for the process described below.

So how do we approach this?

Since Windows Server 2008 storage & clustering isn’t the pain it could be in earlier version. It’s the disk manager handling all that and it makes live a lot easier. All disks presented to a cluster node are off line to the operating system until you bring it online. Even if it contains data or is presented to another host, whether that is a member of another cluster or a stand alone host. Pretty cool. It also means you can have all your nodes on line during the process. The process of bringing the disk online and, if needed formatting it with NTFS and then adding it to the cluster as storage can be done on just one of the nodes.

As you recall I unplugged the evicted node from the iSCSI storage (you could also disable the ports) before I upgraded it. The entire iSCSI configuration got upgraded perfectly so all I needed to do was plug the iSCSI cables in and the storage appeared offline. My old cluster node was up and running still accessing it. Pretty slick! And great as a demo but you can play it safer. That was fun Smile but perhaps we won’t be that brave in a production environment.


You could decide to bring all LUNS over at once or one at the time. The process is the same. If you do it one by one you’ll have to rely on the above behavior to protect the LUNs against corruption or you can un-present the LUNS remaining on the old cluster from the new cluster so you’ll never have an issue. We’ve done both and it works out rather fine in testing. Windows clustering is really doing it’s best to prevent you from shooting yourself in the foot Smile

Let’s say I go LUN by LUN. Now I can just remove the VMs from the old cluster using the Failover cluster GUI so they are no longer highly available on that node. When I have no more clustered VMs on a CSV LUN I can shut down all the guests in Hyper-V Manager and stop right there.

On the old cluster I remove that LUN from the CSV storage and from the cluster storage. At that moment that LUN is already taken offline for you!


Pardon the silly size but I didn’t have space left to make a realistic screenshot Smile

Great, Windows is protecting us against any possible data corruption! So now I can than un-present the LUN form the old cluster nodes. The next step is to enable the ISCI ports, present that LUN to the new cluster node or nodes (depends on where in the x number of node process you are) or just plug in the cable .

You’ll see the new LUN off line than on the new cluster. We can than make the LUN on line so it will be available to add to the cluster. Just right click that disk and select “Online”.




Right click on storage



Select an disk that’s available to add to the cluster.



Things has gotten a lot simpler with CSV in Windows Server 2012. No more enabling it with a funky warning message that’s well meant but is rather confusing an annoying. You just right click the disk and choose “Add to Cluster Shared Volumes” and that’s it.



And there it is. That disk in our new cluster is ready to use as a CSV.



So we can now us a nifty new capability in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: “Register the virtual machine in-place” (use the existing unique ID)



The wizard starts.



Select the folder where your VM or VMs live. yes you can do multiple given that your folder structure allows for this.



It’s found one VM in our folder



We click Next



We select “Register the virtual machine in-place” (use the existing unique ID) and click next.


If something is not right like some forgotten “saved” states you’ll get a change to dump those or cancel the process to deal with it properly before trying it again.



If virtual network names do not match you’ll get the opportunity to set correct that by specifying what virtual switch to use.



If all was well in the first place or after you’ve fixed any issues like the ones demonstrated above you’re good to go. Click finish and enjoy your Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Guest.



At this point you can already start your VMs. I know that the next step is to make all these VMs highly available but here we have some good news as well. You can now make running VMs highly available. Yeah! They no longer need to be shut down. All this is done via the well know process so I’m not going to walk trough the entire process here. But the screen shot of a making a running VM highly available is worth posting Smile


My Best of MMS 2012 Series: Private Cloud 2012 Lessons Learned from Our Early Adopters

An open discussion on people who have built private clouds at customers.


In real live things don’t shrink that often.  Smile Free or real cheap back charge rates are not doing anything to help.

My take on this is that you should look at elasticity as a flexibility feature. Even if a cloud is no that elastic in both ways. You can shrink a cloud v1 to zero as you migrate the VMs to private cloud v2. Than dump the resources back into another pool, step by step or in one go. I’ll use whatever works to make my live easier.

Standardizing & Customer Centric Operations = Planning is Key!

These two can be hard to combine. It takes serious planning and as such an upfront investment.

Than you need to build it to optimize operations (cost & excellent service). This sounds nice but how good are we at this and what is the shelf life of a solution versus the investment?

There is a lot of preparation to do. There is a lot of things to consider. Databases, Storage, the network, security boundaries, disaster recovery planning. They advise not to do it cross domain. Hmmm … we need to address this. Seriously..

Testing => build decent scripts with variables & config files. This will help to deploy in test, acceptance & production without to many changes/work.

Make sure you define all service accounts, groups and permissions you need.

It’s all about planning and what’s being told are best practices that exist already, private cloud or not.

Self Service

  • Service Catalog is a prerequisite.
  • Self Service is key to the private cloud.
  • If people can they will do things differently. You’ll have to learn to deal with this.
  • Billing for services should be clear. Not to much detail. VMs & Storage are two good ones. Keep it simple and don’t go into memory & vCPU. Just set boundaries.


We dive into the System Center products and look at it from both the IT Pro and the consumer side of things.

Requests => Approval & Deployment

Approval process should be dynamic based on what is requested & who’s making is. You’ll also need SLAs & chargeback on these. Be careful not over complicating it or you encourage rogue IT.

RANT: IT should make things as easy as possible. And in this discussion I’m not won over for charge back. It often turns into an excel exercise. Internal IT becomes more and more like an external service provider or integrator in this model. The inherent strength of being part of the business and being in the best position to help that business move ahead is lost. Is this a complot of the integrators? It fits their model but basically a lot of that is broken very badly. The last thing internal IT should do is become like them. That will do nothing for “Business-IT alignment”. We need to leverage the possibilities of the private cloud for our business or we have no unique selling point. Not that the service providers do a better job, but at least they are not on the pay roll so the bean counters like that. And as long as they can use public cloud to get their needs served hey couldn’t care less about who does the private cloud thingy for them. So a functional IT is first and foremost what we need. That is customer centered. Alignment of business & IT is worthless without that. The latter happens ay to much.


Well yes this is important. We need reports, reviews, Service Improvement Plans, look for opportunities for automation.

Personal Best of MMS 2012 Series “Why We Fail–An Architect’s Journey to the Private Cloud”


The speaker (Alex Jauch) addresses cloud terminology confusion and points out that yet everyone wants it. So the pressure is on to deliver cloud.

But as an architect you can’t build with such vague notions of what it is. That just doesn’t work. 78% of enterprise IT Shops will deploy a private cloud by 2014 (Gartner) 62% of all IT Projects fail. For the record, building a private cloud is not an easy project.

For one, what are you building? What is it, way to may definitions. NIST seems to be one of the better definitions around. Specific, direct and actionable. We can work with that. I suggest you visit the NIST site for more information on:

  • Deployment Models:Private Cloud, Hybrid, Public.
  • Service models SAAS, PAAS, IAAS
  • The Essential Characteristics
    The Common Characteristics

Why We Fail

What happens:

  • Install Hyper-V
  • Deploy System Center
  • Build a solution

The essential element of cloud is that  “The cloud is a customer centric business model, not technology”.It’s approached to much as a technology problem and that’s why we fail.

The architect should not allow this to happen so he is to blame. The architectural practice is to marry business needs and wants to technology as a solution. This really hits home but there are more people involved and than there is the entire business / IT alignment fiasco as you can read in my blog The shortage of skilled employees, are we making it worse? , but the bucks ends with the architect..

How do we add value to the business? Commodities do not add value, they are necessities. So we need to decide what business we are in. Meeting standards is not a goal. Enabling business is the goal. So they think you’re doing a great job empowering them. After all they are paying for it.

The Take Away

Traditional IT needs to evolve (fast) to customer centric IT.  End user departments define the goals. Our operational proficiency used to be our pride but what does it mean to the customer? Problems that do not affect the business don’t matter. So talk to customers to find out about what they want and need. They don’t care about your skill set or certifications. You’ll need t extract the need from their wants.

The ability to take pain points away from customers. Small & medium sized projects do very well at this. But in a lot of companies they don’t promote you for those “smaller” projects. So the business also has to evolve.

I’d like to add that Old style IT is also promoted by  a lot of misguided security officers and business lawyers. Strict rules as a guidance and instrument are their instruments and no those are also not always in the business best interest.

This relates to IT Portfolio Management: Strategic, High Potential, Key Operational & Support. We need to realize that whatever we work on might be strategic or high potential will move to key operational and support. They all need different approaches and types of management. So choose your methodologies wisely. Don’t just pick one and force that square peg in the round hole. This is my advice to both business and IT. I’ve seen business decisions change support level products turned into high cost  high maintenance because due to bad decisions. So we might not have to be our brothers keeper towards the business but than again do we really need those bridging functions and those guys or gals need to be at the top of their game as I stated in The shortage of skilled employees, are we making it worse?

So keep things a simple and as effective as possible. Do it fast, ride and repeat. You’ll learn a lot and improve along the way. So here comes the build or buy decision and the link to the NetApp plug by the speaker. This is very dependent on the situation of the organization at hand. So the fast track has it’s place here. Is speed of delivery of key importance or absolute flexibility and adaptability? So it will depend. Yes the consultants answer. But being a real consultant is a very respectable job. I can’t hell it that the word has become meaningless due to missuses and inflationary titles for temps for hire.  The System Center stack and how NetApp improves and leverages all this is briefly discussed. He ties the fast track into the discussion of portfolio management and working in a customer centric way.


Why are we doing what we do? Think about it. There is a nice book on this subject  “Why we fail? by Alex Jauch.